Author Topic: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question  (Read 4025 times)

Dan Fienen

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2014, 11:59:28 AM »
Strangely enough it usually seems that when the topic of Christian unity comes up and what we need to do achieve the unity that God wants for us, it is those of traditional theology that are supposed to set aside what they believe, teach and confess and allow it to be only one of several acceptable understandings of the truth and in the end one that is barely accepted.  Those who are progressive argue that their positions should first be tolerated, then fully accepted and finally be the standard interpretation except for the few remaining backward and marginal traditionalists who mercifully for the rest can be kept from having any real impact on the church as a whole.

Let us look again at the Jesus quote that John Mundinger cites:

Quote from: Jesus Christ
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Jesus does indeed pray that all who believe in Him be one.  Jesus did not intend that His followers be divided, but united in His word.  But note how that pericope begins: "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."  Unity is not where Jesus begins but with truth, the truth found in the Father's word.  Often times truth is pitted against unity, with many (especially among the progressives) siding with unity over truth.  Only time will tell how long until a new progressive orthodoxy becomes established that will not tolerate traditionalists who have become the new heretics by not cleaving to the progressive orthodoxy.

 

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John Mundinger

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2014, 12:07:27 PM »
Jesus does indeed pray that all who believe in Him be one.  Jesus did not intend that His followers be divided, but united in His word.  But note how that pericope begins: "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."  Unity is not where Jesus begins but with truth, the truth found in the Father's word.  Often times truth is pitted against unity, with many (especially among the progressives) siding with unity over truth.  Only time will tell how long until a new progressive orthodoxy becomes established that will not tolerate traditionalists who have become the new heretics by not cleaving to the progressive orthodoxy.

I agree with you Pr. Fienen.  However, who among us really has a lock on the truth?  God's Word is Truth.  Our respective interpretations of God's Word well might not be.  It seems to me that the fundamental error is that each side is right and the defender of truth and the other side is, therefore, wrong, unorthodox, unrepentant, apostate, living in unbelief, etc. etc.  I'd suggest that a healthier place to begin - and a place that is more consistent with the Lutheran Confessions - is to begin with the assumption that both sides are wrong.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2014, 12:13:05 PM »
 Pr. Culler, I should have made clear that I don't really disagree with your final sentence. I only alluded to the first clause. The second, that "we will be together in fullness only after the Lord's return," is also true, I fear. After spending as many years in the ELCA as I spent growing up in the LCMS, I believe that neither body is on the right course regarding ecumenical dialogue and what it is intended to accomplish. I do believe both are acting out of honest conviction, but I believe that both are misguided.

Truly, the reuniting of the denominations/splits in the Church will only occur when God wills it to happen. I think of Paul's urging to have the mind of Christ, and indeed that is what it will take. As things stand now, a false unity that is imposed "from above" (meaning a denominational decisions to do so rather than from the true head of the Church, our Lord Jesus Christ) is no unity at all, and makes (at worst) a mockery of our Lord's prayer that we might be one as he and the Father are one.

I am in no position to judge anyone who has left one denomination for another, or even left to start yet another new denomination. We are sinners, and we sin. Sometimes boldly. Sometimes because we judge that leaving is less of a sin than staying. Nonetheless, I have cast my lot with staying. And I refuse to say that the breaks are God's will. We are still called to do what we can to mend the breach, to be the repairers of streets, and to bind up what was broken, knowing that only God can judge whether what we do is worthy or not.

Finally, I am coming more and more to believe in the primary importance of orthodoxy (small "o", as in "right praise"), rather than in correct doctrine, as what has a better shot at holding us together.  Not that I dismiss correct doctrine as unimportant; rather, I think it is right praise that is more important and shapes and preserves doctrine. Adherant to the Book of Concord that I am, I think we went too far in dismissing the importance of holding to certain common forms in worship.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2014, 12:48:28 PM »
Pastor Wolf is correct, denominationalism is not
a gift of God.  Instead, it is a result of the pride
and sinfulness of man.  The One Holy Christian and
Apostolic Church is the only church that really
exists.  Everything else is stopgap until the
Parousia.


Denominations are different parts of the one body. For our bodies to function, it requires the differences and it requires them to work together with each other.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dave Likeness

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2014, 12:51:05 PM »
In the Lutheran Forum magazine of Winter 2013,
Paul Sauer wrote an article, "On Not Putting God
In A Fruit Jar".

He describes Transactional Theology:
It focuses on doctrines and seeks to impart only
knowledge.  It seeks to engage others on the
basis of polemics and self defense of its position.

He describes Relational Theology:
It focuses on the believer's relationship with Christ
that is formed by faith.  It seeks to incorporate
the believer into the worship and sacramental life
of the church.

His concluding statement, "A doctrinal church that
fails to pay adequate attention to a relational life in
Christ may win this generation's  battles, but the cost
for the next generation that knows only ABOUT God
will be steep."

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2014, 12:51:59 PM »
Strangely enough it usually seems that when the topic of Christian unity comes up and what we need to do achieve the unity that God wants for us, it is those of traditional theology that are supposed to set aside what they believe, teach and confess and allow it to be only one of several acceptable understandings of the truth and in the end one that is barely accepted.  Those who are progressive argue that their positions should first be tolerated, then fully accepted and finally be the standard interpretation except for the few remaining backward and marginal traditionalists who mercifully for the rest can be kept from having any real impact on the church as a whole.

Let us look again at the Jesus quote that John Mundinger cites:

Quote from: Jesus Christ
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

Jesus does indeed pray that all who believe in Him be one.  Jesus did not intend that His followers be divided, but united in His word.  But note how that pericope begins: "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."  Unity is not where Jesus begins but with truth, the truth found in the Father's word.  Often times truth is pitted against unity, with many (especially among the progressives) siding with unity over truth.  Only time will tell how long until a new progressive orthodoxy becomes established that will not tolerate traditionalists who have become the new heretics by not cleaving to the progressive orthodoxy.


That word for "one" is also used of husbands and wives becoming "one" flesh. That unity does not diminish their differences. In our Trinitarian beliefs, the unity of God does not turn the Son into the Father or the Father into the Son, and neither are the person of the Spirit. Thus, our Christian churches can be one without losing their distinctiveness. The unity does not mean uniformity. The Father is not the Son who is not the Spirit; but they are one God.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Mark Brown

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2014, 01:01:59 PM »
Mr. Mundinger, it is obvious that both sides are wrong in some things simply because we are sinners, but that is a trite observation.  There is a difference between "those who follow Apollos" and "a man who has his Father's wife" or "Hymenaeus and Alexander".   Pr. Sauer's article wants to treat all differences as political or "those who follow Apollos".  I think we are well past that point and getting further apart.  You dialog with "Apollos".  The only meaningful words as a church body you can have with "a man who has his Father's wife" is repent.

And this has fundamental pastoral practice application.  When a couple retires and moves away and they say "the only church within 20 miles is an ELCA/LCMS congregation", what do you say?  If it is a matter of "Apollos" you might encourage the longer drive, and at the very least encourage a deep discernment prior to release, but you still recognize the body.  Today, it feels like releasing someone into a burning building.

Hence the more fundamental question: can we at this point really recognize each other as the una sancta?  Individuals within the bodies are different.  (Heck, I think it is possible that there are Mormons who might be part of the body, bad Mormons but felicitous inconsistency strikes many places.)  But institutionally have the lots not been cast?

John_Hannah

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2014, 02:49:36 PM »
Mr. Mundinger, it is obvious that both sides are wrong in some things simply because we are sinners, but that is a trite observation.  There is a difference between "those who follow Apollos" and "a man who has his Father's wife" or "Hymenaeus and Alexander".   Pr. Sauer's article wants to treat all differences as political or "those who follow Apollos".  I think we are well past that point and getting further apart.  You dialog with "Apollos".  The only meaningful words as a church body you can have with "a man who has his Father's wife" is repent.

And this has fundamental pastoral practice application.  When a couple retires and moves away and they say "the only church within 20 miles is an ELCA/LCMS congregation", what do you say?  If it is a matter of "Apollos" you might encourage the longer drive, and at the very least encourage a deep discernment prior to release, but you still recognize the body.  Today, it feels like releasing someone into a burning building.

Hence the more fundamental question: can we at this point really recognize each other as the una sancta?  Individuals within the bodies are different.  (Heck, I think it is possible that there are Mormons who might be part of the body, bad Mormons but felicitous inconsistency strikes many places.)  But institutionally have the lots not been cast?

Pr. Sauer is talking about differences within the one holy catholic apostolic Church. That is, brothers and sisters who worship the Holy Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Catholics, Baptists, and (the other kind of) Lutherans, and many others who do not worship Apollos or practice incest are eligible.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2014, 02:50:58 PM »
Our work/Satan's "gift" is for us to declare some more righteous than others and, therefore, denominational separation.  Dissension within the Body of Christ is not God's gift.


Is that really what is at work in disunity?


It is always interesting to me that the "unity-arians" among us quote Jesus prayer in this matter-- like it is our task to do something Jesus requests from His Father (we are not His Father!). That should be an indicator to us that this particular task is above our pay grade......talk about an invitation to total frustration.....


Lou

I have difficult finding a good place for phrases like "our task" in conversations regarding our relationship with God and, because we are in relationship with God, our relationships with one another in the Body of Christ.

Indeed, the "task" is "above our pay grade".  Moreover, in Christ, the task already has been completed.  If, by God's work, there is ONE Body of Christ, it is contradictory to suggest that divisions within the Body are also God's work.  If God didn't do it, who did?  The answer points to us, the members, and us, motivated by something other than the Holy Spirit.

I have no realistic expectation that we have the capacity to overcome divisions within the Body.  However, that is no basis for coming to the conclusion that it is our task to perpetuate the divisions.  Our ecumenical conversations should always begin with our confession that there is one holy, catholic and apostolic church.  And, the second step, ought to be confession of our own sins which cause division in the Body.  That approach defines a very different approach than assuming that those with whom we disagree are apostate and the source of all the division.


Ah, but John there IS one holy catholic and apostolic church. The problem is the human desire to make that visible in our way, in our time, to our reason. Just accept that what has been declared is true and stop the incessant demand that everything fall in place with your rather idiosyncratic ideals on your timetable. Far easier said than done, I know. We live by faith now, seeing comes later.....that's why it is called faith.


Lou

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2014, 05:08:18 PM »


Ah, but John there IS one holy catholic and apostolic church. The problem is the human desire to make that visible in our way, in our time, to our reason. Just accept that what has been declared is true and stop the incessant demand that everything fall in place with your rather idiosyncratic ideals on your timetable. Far easier said than done, I know. We live by faith now, seeing comes later.....that's why it is called faith.


Lou
Note that in the Nicene Creed we state "I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church".   The one Church is a matter of faith, not of sight.    As you rightly said "we live by faith now, seeing comes later".
Harry Edmon, Ph.D., LCMS Layman

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #25 on: March 15, 2014, 08:57:09 PM »

Denominations are different parts of the one body. For our bodies to function, it requires the differences and it requires them to work together with each other.

An intriguing thought, as a way to apply what Paul wrote to our current state of brokenness and impaired communion.

But one to which, on further consideration, I will say "No."  In this case sentence "A" does not equal sentence "B."

BHHughes

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2014, 06:54:17 AM »

Lutherans, our reason for existing and other musings.

I'm not very bright so I have limited insight into whether the separation of Lutherans along ideological lines is a gift or a scandal. On a more prosaic note, from one angle of history Lutherans were a movement of reformation for the larger church and renewal for personal and household faith. When examining influence on the larger Body and the growth of authentic disciples within, I'm thinking the movement has pretty much run its course. Regardless of our brand, we are now just another bump of a divided church with not much to offer outside the confines of our particular sandbox as we struggle to keep our houses upright.

Dave Benke

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2014, 07:13:18 AM »

Lutherans, our reason for existing and other musings.

I'm not very bright so I have limited insight into whether the separation of Lutherans along ideological lines is a gift or a scandal. On a more prosaic note, from one angle of history Lutherans were a movement of reformation for the larger church and renewal for personal and household faith. When examining influence on the larger Body and the growth of authentic disciples within, I'm thinking the movement has pretty much run its course. Regardless of our brand, we are now just another bump of a divided church with not much to offer outside the confines of our particular sandbox as we struggle to keep our houses upright.

Trenchantly observed.

Dave Benke

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #28 on: March 16, 2014, 10:52:14 AM »
Mr. Mundinger, it is obvious that both sides are wrong in some things simply because we are sinners, but that is a trite observation.  There is a difference between "those who follow Apollos" and "a man who has his Father's wife" or "Hymenaeus and Alexander".   Pr. Sauer's article wants to treat all differences as political or "those who follow Apollos".  I think we are well past that point and getting further apart.  You dialog with "Apollos".  The only meaningful words as a church body you can have with "a man who has his Father's wife" is repent.

And this has fundamental pastoral practice application.  When a couple retires and moves away and they say "the only church within 20 miles is an ELCA/LCMS congregation", what do you say?  If it is a matter of "Apollos" you might encourage the longer drive, and at the very least encourage a deep discernment prior to release, but you still recognize the body.  Today, it feels like releasing someone into a burning building.

Hence the more fundamental question: can we at this point really recognize each other as the una sancta?  Individuals within the bodies are different.  (Heck, I think it is possible that there are Mormons who might be part of the body, bad Mormons but felicitous inconsistency strikes many places.)  But institutionally have the lots not been cast?

Pr. Sauer is talking about differences within the one holy catholic apostolic Church. That is, brothers and sisters who worship the Holy Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Catholics, Baptists, and (the other kind of) Lutherans, and many others who do not worship Apollos or practice incest are eligible.

Peace, JOHN

Thank you, Pr. Hannah.  It seems to me that the tenet that we are sisters and brothers in Christ is too often the first victim of "ecumenical" conversation.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

John Mundinger

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Re: Paul Sauer Article & Begging the Question
« Reply #29 on: March 16, 2014, 10:55:21 AM »
Ah, but John there IS one holy catholic and apostolic church. The problem is the human desire to make that visible in our way, in our time, to our reason.

That problem is as great among those who claim to be "orthodox" as it is among those whom they would dismiss as "heterodox".

Just accept that what has been declared is true and stop the incessant demand that everything fall in place with your rather idiosyncratic ideals on your timetable.

That exhortation cuts in both directions, too.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine